And the winner is … Krisanthi Pappas. A few weeks ago the jazz and pop vocalist based in Boston sent us this year’s very first Christmas CD. Yes, it’s nearly 90 degrees here in Silver Spring, Md., and I would guess that it’s not much cooler up there in Boston, so Pappas gets incredible style and chutzpah points for thinking ahead. Way ahead.
As a connoisseur of Xmas music, I admire the young woman’s pluck, but more importantly I like the record, titled You and Me by the Christmas Tree (Music Box). Accompanying an acoustic jazz trio on most of the cuts, Pappas has a soft, dusky voice not unlike Norah Jones’ or Diana Krall’s. There’s a little scat singing on “Winter Wonderland” but in general the performance is one of subtle restraint and beauty.
I can testify that when the heat and humidity make you feel like you’re taking a fully clothed bake in a sauna, listening to songs like “The Christmas Song” or “White Christmas” has an oddly cooling effect. Though I must confess I turned the AC up a little to help the mood. It turns out Pappas did the same thing when recording.
Reached by phone at her New England home, Pappas said that the CD was actually recorded last year, but most definitely in the summer. “It was the absolute hottest day of the year,” Pappas said. “Of course, when we were recording, the air conditioning had to be turned off because of the hum, so in between takes we’d run over to the AC and try to cool off. I also wore my red Santa hat to get in the mood.” (I think I’ll try that hat trick myself.) Pappas also said that she’s currently booking holiday shows in Boston and NYC.
Ms. Pappas, for the first Xmas submission of the year, we salute you. You join a select club that includes trumpeter Chris Botti, who won the holiday-early-bird prize in 2002 for December, which we ironically received in August of that year. As a prize of sorts, I am including one of her cuts (maybe the original “Christmas Party”) on my annual Xmas mix CD that takes the place of a holiday card or one of those dumb boasting newsletters. (Sorry, Ms. Pappas, no royalties.) For more information about Pappas and her other projects, go to krisanthi.com.